My comments to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce

I was honoured to be a panelist at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM earlier today. I was introduced by Hon. Perrin Beatty and spoke between Her Worship Pauline Quinlan, Mayor of Bromont, and Stuart Harrison, General Manager of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. We contributed to a discussion on advancing municipal issues. I was the digital guy.

As is routinely the case, my prepared comments changed as a result of conversations I had with lunch companions prior to taking the stage.

Here are the three parting thoughts I delivered to the audience.

1) INTEGRATE

Digital channels and social media tools must be integrated into the full communication plan, whether issue specific or part of an ongoing relationship with stakeholders and the public. Too many companies, organizations, individuals and governments treat new media as an afterthought of the more familiar forms of communication. Afterthoughts rarely ever bring about positive results. As a colleague once said, “digital must be in the marrow.”

2) SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND

Digital newcomers would be wise to spend a few weeks becoming familiar with the issues being discussed online, how and by whom. Get to know the territory before you join it. Discover the stakeholders you may not have considered. Learn the language and dynamics. Too many companies get excited about the technology and find themselves desparately out of touch from the online culture–a very new, bi-directional way of engaging with the public.

3) KICK-STARTING DIGITAL FOR NON-PROFITS

This was added as a result of one of those pre-panel discussions. Someone asked me how a non-profit with no money for digital support can get much needed help with the technology. I suggested there are two possibilities certainly in Ontario and perhaps elsewhere in Canada:

  • The high school co-operative education program allows students to achieve academic credit for real world experience gained during a work placement (half days) each term.
  • Ontario high school students are required to complete 40 hours of volunteer work.

Many of my remarks to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce are part of a report I’m preparing about the use of digital channels and social media by federal MPs. My wife has suggested an amazing title for the report… Peace, Order and Googleable Government. Look for that report to be released in the coming weeks.